This was when members of the Western Provincial Juvenile Justice Committee (PJJC) recently visited Monfort Primary School in Kiunga, together with Department of Justice and Attorney General representatives.
The visit was part of a program being developed by the Committee to promote and implement juvenile justice services across Western Province, including raising awareness about child rights and protection and the dangers of drug and alcohol use and misuse.
Western Province Deputy Provincial Administrator-Operations, Rupert Tabua, said the province had “a huge number of youths dropping out of school each year”. The same sentiments were shared by Juvenile Justice Officer Rueben Paulus, who added that alcohol and drug abuse was a significant problem, particularly among boys from 15 to 18 years.
Tabua welcomed the establishment of the PJJC, saying there was a need for “youth representation to deter them from (committing) offences”.
Monfort Primary School Principal Pancratius Lawrence applauded Paulus and his team’s work of raising awareness.
He said the Committee’s presentation made students aware of their rights and responsibilities, while year seven teacher Tabitha Yarugop said it provided her and her colleagues with crucial information about how they could help protect and assist children coming into contact with the law as offenders, victims and witnesses.
The Western PJJC has been established with support from the Australian government through the #PNGAusPartnership to more effectively coordinate and implement juvenile justice services in the province.
It is one of seven committees being established across six provinces and Bougainville to help implement the Juvenile Justice Act 2014 and the Juvenile Justice National Plan 2018-2022.
The PJJC’s work complements other juvenile justice activities being undertaken in the province with Australian government support, including the opening of a dedicated juvenile facility at Kiunga later this year.
Survivors of assault or other crimes can get advice and assistance by calling the 1-Tok Kaunsellin Helpim Lain on 71508000 between 7am and 7pm.